Maharashtra State BoardHSC Arts 12th Board Exam
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European Crusades and Its Farreaching Consequences

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European Crusades and Its Farreaching Consequences:

Jerusalem and Bethlehem are the two cities, which are considered holy by the Jews, Christians and Muslims Jerusalem is a city in the Middle East, on a plateau in the Judean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. It is one of the old cities in the world and is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions-Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim Jerusalem as their capital, as Israel maintains its primary governmental institutions there and the State of Palestine ultimately foresees it as its seat of power; however, neither claim is widely recognized internationally.

  • Bethlehem: 

Bethlehem initially named after Canaanite fertility god Lethem is a city located in the central West Bank, Palestine, about 10 km (6.2 miles) south of Jerusalem. Its population is approximately 25, 000, and it is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate. The economy is primarily tourist-driven, peaking during the Christmas season when Christians make a pilgrimage to the Church of the Nativity. The important holy site of Rachel's Tomb is located at the northern entrance of Bethlehem, though not freely accessible to the city's inhabitants due to the Israeli West Bank Barrier. These cities were under Islamic rule in the eleventh century. Several wars were fought by the Christians in Europe in the eleventh century to regain a hold on these cities. These wars are known as ‘Crusades’.

  • Supporting the Crusades:

The common people in Europe were highly inspired by the idea of being part of the wars, which were fought for the cause of religion. Pope, the highest authority of the Catholic Church had announced that those who fought in a crusade would be forgiven of their sins and would immediately go to heaven. This led to spontaneous participation by common people in the crusades. Besides, the social, political circumstances in Europe were also among the causes for the beginning of these wars. Roman emperors were trying to bring the regions of Syria and Asia Minor under their rule. Rich merchants in Venice and Geneva, the two trading centers in Italy wanted to establish their trade in the Central Asian market places. Thus, the crusades were supported by the rulers and rich traders in their own interest.

The first crusade started in 1096 C.E., while giving a call for the second crusade, Pope Eugenia’s III sought help from the French King Louis VII and the German King Conrad III. Ultimately the crusaders were defeated by the Turks. In 1187 C.E. Saladin, the Sultan of Egypt defeated the crusaders by conquering Jerusalem. However, the crusades did not stop after that. In the course of time, totally nine crusades were launched. Despite the crusades, Jerusalem and the region around it remained under the control of Islamic rule.

  • Causes of the failure of the Crusaders:

The failure of the Christian Crusaders can be attributed to the attitude of the Pope and the European rulers, who initiated the crusades mainly for their own vested interests. Besides, the other factors like common people losing faith, rift between the Pope and the European kings, dispute between the Pope and the German Emperor, non-co-operation by the Emperor of Byzantium also caused the failure of crusades.

  • Consequences of the Crusades:

Some historians feel that crusades led to the end of feudalism in Europe. The faith in the Pope began to decline. The contact with the regions in Central Asia led to the increased trade and the new avenues were opened for the cities in Italy and Germany. It saw the rise of a new class of traders. The European warfare went through many changes. European nations acquired expertise in building forts, managing the forts as military outposts, building bridges for moving the army from one place to another, destruction of the enemy’s routes, etc.

European kings levied new taxes which were directly added to the royal treasury. Europeans were introduced to newer types of plants, fruits, perfumes, different styles of clothing, sugar, silk and cotton textiles, spices, medicinal herbs and so on. During the prolonged times of crusades Europeans came into contact with the Arabs and got introduced to several new subjects. Europeans adopted many Arabic words used in alchemy, music and commerce.

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